‘How Might We?’ tool: Making the leap from problem to solution

Nov 11th 2018

Every problem is an opportunity for new design. By framing the challenge as a “How Might We?” question, we set ourselves up for a possible solution

 

We start by identifying problem areas that pose challenges to the people for whom the product or service is being designed. These could be broad themes from research or specific issues that need to be addressed. When re-framing the statements as “How Might We?” questions, one can turn those challenges into opportunities for design.

The “How Might We?” format suggests that a solution is possible and it offers the chance to answer the question in a variety of ways. A properly framed “How Might We?” does not suggest a particular solution, but gives the perfect frame for innovative thinking. The idea is to create a wide variety of problem descriptions and definitions. In this way, different perspectives are shown, and the problem is described from various points of view.

Although Core will deploy this at the Understand stage of its human-centered design process, the “How Might We?” tool can be used throughout, particularly whenever the team experiences a block to their creativity or a seemingly unsolvable problem is identified.

Playing ‘How Might We?’

First, agree on the topic area you are designing for. This might be a theme identified from research findings or a specific issue within the project’s scope. This is a group exercise, so start by bringing together people with knowledge and interest in the topic area. This could involve clinical experts, people with field experience and those who are working on related issues.

  1. Each person taking part in the exercise receives one template.
  2. Each person identifies a problem that needs to be resolved and rephrases it as a question by putting “How Might We?” at the beginning. They write this into the central circle.
  3. Everyone passes their template with completed “How Might We?” question to the person on their left.
  4. There are four connected circles labelled “We Might”. In each of these, this next person writes an idea for how to answer the question.
  5. Rotate the templates to the left again.
  6. At this point, each participant takes a Role Playing card (see Role Play tool) and imagines what solution this role might suggest. There are four more connected circles to write these into.
  7. When the templates are completely filled in, team members take the time to discuss the solutions and their development with one another.

 

Passing the template around does two things – first, it forces individuals to emotionally detach from their ideas, so they can more rationally work on them, and second, it brings together multiple perspectives to build on one another from the start.

 

'How Might We?' Tool

The 'How Might We?' Guidelines